Imagination is an odd thing. It’s quite unnerving sometimes how drawings can take on a mind of their own. I find it impossible to draw an image that has already fully formed in my head – any attempt to replicate the mind’s-eye illustration in physical media will always end in disappointment, it’ll never be perfect to how I’ve seen it in my mind.
Therefore, I never think about illustrations in depth before starting them. Yes, in many cases planning in needed, but this occurs in the form of quick pen sketches on paper to remove the ideas from the mind before they can be overdeveloped. The development process and perfecting is then carried out on paper and built up with bits and pieces taken from the initial pen sketches.
In the case of illustrations I create at my own leisure however, I find it best to have little if no idea of what the end product will be. The illustration above for example began as a simple pencil study of orchids to practice drawing plants. But at some point the entity that is can only really be considered as ‘imaginative concentration’ kicked in. I’m sure all artists and craftspeople experience the same disconnected state of mind when they’re totally engrossed in their work – a quieting of the world, where time, emotion, reality cease to exist. There is only the piece in front of you, growing and evolving past anything you imagined at the start. It’s almost as if a second personality lays dormant inside, taking control of your physical form only in order to produce art. And at the end, you wake up from the trance and find that you have created something – an illustration, poem, sculpture – that didn’t exist until the very moment that you made your last brushstroke.
Of curse, not everyone appreciates the effort. Art will always be graded from person to person, some will love, some will hate. Looking back at a piece in the months or years that follow, you yourself may even come to judge your own pieces harshly. But that doesn’t take away the experience of creating it. For when you are in that creative state – where the mind and body share the same vision and become one – you know only enjoyment.
This trance state of creation truly is the only place that I find complete inner peace and it is extraordinary to experience, even if I’m unaware of it at the time.